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Food for the Game & Love for the Food

As many of you may know the Super Bowl is next weekend AND as you may also know, the best part of the Super Bowl is THE FOOD. Okay the commercials are pretty fun, the game is cool, family, friends but c’mon…the food is the best part!? Pizza, tortilla chips and guac, chicken wings, potato chips, nachos, queso dip, I can go on and on. So of course I will be watching (i.e. stuffing my face) the game next Sunday! Any event that allows me a week in advance to begin a conversation with “let’s talk menu” is an event for me. This is exactly what I did yesterday, started planning the Super Bowl menu.

Here’s what will be causing me to miss the best Super Bowl commercials and the play of the evening next Sunday:img_4599

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp appetizers is making a comeback after being a hit during the football game on Thanksgiving. This time, however, they will be accompanied by a cilantro dipping sauce. People expecting to see the good ol’ buffalo chicken wings will absolutely forget about them (forever) after they taste these shrimp babies.img_5332

Mini Baked Empanadas will be sitting front and center when the game begins. I’m prepping these a day before since that can be an event of its own. Last time I made these they were amazing in their full empanada size so I imagine they will be even better when limited to only a few bites. For the filling I will attempt a cuban style picadillo using ground beef, pepper stuffed green olives, raisins, green bell peppers and spices. I’ve never attempted this filling, but I’ve had it many times at my favorite cuban restaurant. Wish me luck!fullsizerender-19

Ceviche is something I love to make during summer months because it’s refreshing and super easy. My dad taught me how to make ceviche and his is the best I’ve ever had so I’m letting him take that dish. All we use to make this is fish (any white fish works), cut in small pieces, lime juice (I like to use a lime/lemon juice combo), chopped tomato, onion ( I prefer red onion), cilantro and salt. My dad doesn’t know this, but I also use a little of paprika just to give it another layer of flavor. You can make the ceviche the same day, but my dad recommends letting the fish marinade in the lime juice over night. I’ve prepared it with much less time than that and can tell you that after about 40 minutes it’s pretty darn good! Once you strain the juice from the fish (otherwise it’s too sour), add salt and the chopped ingredients. Mix and sprinkle some paprika and start dipping your tortilla chips or better yet have on a tostada the way it’s meant to be had (not on game day).img_5337

Braised Brisket Loaded fries, is something I’ve been wanting to make for a while now. Since I’ll be totally over-eating I want to rescue some calories by baking the fries. I know, I know, but I’m going to make a paprika seasoning to make you forget the fries are baked and it will be absolutely delicious! I’m also going to make an cilantro chimichurri to add some freshness and some pickled onions for pizzazz, texture and pretty color. Okay, you can’t have loaded fries without cheese, so yes I will be using some cotija cheese to keep them light, but also very flavorful. Keep a look out for this picture, it’s going to be kind of amazing!img_5028

Baked Oysters Rockefeller, recently inspired during my trip to New Orleans, will be something I will be making for the first time. I’m a little nervous because I’ve never baked oysters in my life, but considering I use my oven quite often I’m sure I can figure it out (right?). My goal is to reproduce my favorite baked oyster from The Royal House in NOLA with a spinach, bacon, wine? and cheese? Well, as you can see I will be tasting as I go to make sure it turns out just as good as the ones I had in NOLA. I can’t wait!

Okay so I know you’re probably asking yourself where the game food is, right? I mean, what’s with all this fancy stuff? Bring out the potato chips and crack open the cheese dip. Well here’s the thing. This year one of my resolutions was to stop eating packaged foods and cook more (#cookmore). So I will be making everything from scratch. It’s just so much better to eat things we actually make and avoid all the artificial preservatives and extra pounds of salt and sugar found in packaged foods. So, I hope you share the love for clean, home cooked meals because this year is going to be filled with ’em!

Now that we have a plan, menu, strategy and incredibly delicious visuals. Let the games begin!



alfredo · alternative · cauliflower · cheese · chicken meal · dinner idea · healthy · parmesan · pasta · pasta dish · whole wheat

Chicken Cauli-fredo Pasta Kind of Date Night

I went to the grocery store this weekend and I was amazed by how much time I spent in the pasta section. Seriously, I must have gone back and forth between regular penne pasta and whole wheat pasta like 5-6 times. At one point I even looked for brown rice penne pasta (like I needed another option!). I picked up the regular penne, then put in back and grabbed the whole wheat, and then put that back. I swear I did this rep 3 times. Now, I know this is not the kind of rep my personal trainer would recommend so why do it? Why was I having such a hard time deciding on penne pasta?!
Honestly, I think it was my love of food at war with my healthy consciousness in freakin’ aisle 9 of the grocery store! (you know, the pasta aisle?).
See, when I know I’ve overindulged in amazingly-delicious treats with zero nutritional value and infinite amounts of endorphins, something happens. Maybe it’s the guilt from all the guilty pleasures that just becomes too heavy  a burden or maybe it’s the extra lbs. here and there. Regardless, this time around I decided on whole wheat penne pasta, but instead of having it with Alfredo sauce like I really, really, really wanted, I bought some cauliflower and made that into an Alfredo-type sauce inspired by a recipe I found online. You may be thinking this sounds like a bad idea, but my food tester who by the way grew up not eating many vegetables because he didn’t like them, actually approved this dish.

To make it you need to first decide on a type of pasta. Sure, you can use any pasta, but whole wheat or brown rice pasta are the healthier options in case you too have had an overindulge-kind-of-week. I used ½ cauliflower- steamed or cooked until it’s soft enough to puree. I did it using my bullet and it was fast and easy. Mix in about ¼ cup of almond milk and pepper (add pasta water to adjust consistency). Set aside. In a sauce pan melt about 2 Tbsp. of butter, 3 cloves of garlic and ½ -1 tsp of salt (up to your taste buds). It’s important to make sure you cook in low heat, otherwise the garlic will burn quickly and add too much color to your sauce. Then add the cauliflower mix to the pan and add 1 tsp of shredded Parmesan cheese (although you can use any kind of hard cheese to change it up a bit like Romano) until it melts all together and the flavors have a chance to combine over a nice bed of heat, after all this blog is about the love of food right?

Finally, I married it with my pasta (cooked as desired). On top I sprinkled some more Parmesan cheese and a piece of grilled chicken which I lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Serve with some white wine and voila!